AT the last meeting of Malvern Hills District Council, Councillor John Raine, who holds the chair in local government studies at the University of Birmingham and who might be rightly regarded as someone who knows what he is talking about, pointed out that the council's Conservative group, which holds about 54 per cent of the seats, had made sure that its members occupied the position of chairman in 100 per cent of the council's committees.

The council's leader, Councillor David Hughes, had no meaningful response to this.

Examination of the facts reveals that a small clique of the Conservative group holds those positions and so benefits from the extra allowances they command, recently increased at the behest of the Conservative group and against vociferous opposition.

I calculate that just 10 Conservative councillors collect just under £100,000 each year in allowances, and the Tory leadership relies upon this patronage to get approval for half-baked ideas such as handing over our council's administration to another council, Wychavon.

The development management committees have always been regraded as apolitical, yet pressure was exerted to ensure that two members of the clique were elected to their chairs with the £3,150 allowance they each command.

I take some solace from the fact that it worked only in the case of one of the two committees.

I think that this behaviour results in what is referred to as the "payroll vote", which I regard as anti-democratic and degenerate.

Roll on the election!

Sarah Rouse

Leigh Sinton